NEOPHRON

This document was originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 1. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 330-331.

One of the most prolific of dramatists was Neophron of Sicyon, to whom are accredited one hundred and twenty pieces, of which only a few fragments of his Medea remain. This, it is said, Euripides used in his tragedy which bears the same title, though, according to some authorities, Neophron lived in the time of Alexander the Great. As Suidas tells us, he introduced in his plays the torture of slaves, such scenes, according to the canons of dramatic art, not being produced on the stage, but merely referred to by messengers.

The poets whose productions coincide with the period of the ochlocracy, or mob rule, up to the end of the Peloponnesian war, were in general marked by an effort to popularize the political, religious and moral ideas of the time. As imitators of Euripides, they were all "poets with a purpose," who introduced the present into the world of myth and paid homage to the feeling of the day even in the words they used and the form of their poetry and music. Their pieces were calculated to produce a momentary effect, and made no pretensions to lasting interest; hence nothing has survived out of the large number of tragedies which belong to this period. We owe even our knowledge of the names of the poets to the jests pointed at them by Aristophanes, and a few isolated quotations in Athenaeus, Stobaeus and the later grammarians. Of this political aftermath, Dionysus is made to say in the Frogs of Aristophanes: "A chattering set they are, a school of twittering chirpers. If they can once get a play represented, the effort is the end of them; they have not enough virility for another. Among the woers of tragedy there is not now one man, not one with a true bold voice."

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